Restrictive covenants are something that can often cause worry for candidates looking to move from one law firm to another… but just how enforceable are these agreements?

I often see covenants which seem very water-tight and well-thought through, from a wording point of view. However, very often, these covenants are far too heavily weighted towards protecting the employer, as opposed to the employee. Often, what is expected of someone is just too unrealistic and unreasonable.

For example, a covenant may state that you are not allowed to work for a competitor within a 20-mile radius of the firm, for a period of 1 year. In this instance, I believe it’s wholly unrealistic that a judge would ever enforce this and realistically, it’s TOO restrictive. In particular, if someone has a family and is the main breadwinner, how can this be a fair and realistic policy to impose on someone…

On the flipside, we can’t simply ignore restrictive covenants, as they are there for a very important reason… which is to reasonably protect the interests of the firm that we work for.

So, to summarise… if you have a restrictive covenant which is putting you off leaving your current employer, you should definitely take it seriously, but maybe we should also question how fair, realistic and ultimately, how enforceable it really is!

If you’re looking to explore your career options within the legal sector in the Southwest and would like a very confidential chat, please get in touch with James at Aspiria Recruit.

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